X-ray (Radiography) – Upper GI Tract

X-ray (Radiography) – Upper GI Tract

Upper gastrointestinal tract radiography or upper GI uses a form of real-time x-ray called fluoroscopy and a barium-based contrast substantial to produce images of the esophagus, stomach and little intestine. It is safe, noninvasive, and may be used to help accurately diagnose pain, acid ebb, blood in the stool and other symptoms .
You will be instructed on how to prepare. Your stomach must be vacate, so you will probable be told not to eat or drink anything ( including oral medications ) or chew gum after midnight the night before. Tell your repair if there ‘s a possibility you are meaning and discuss any late illnesses, medical conditions, medications you ‘re taking and allergies, specially to contrast materials. Leave jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable dress. You may be asked to wear a gown .

What is Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract Radiography?

Upper gastrointestinal nerve pathway radiography, besides called an upper GI, is an x-ray examination of the esophagus, stomach and first separate of the small intestine ( besides known as the duodenum ). Images are produced using a special shape of roentgenogram called fluoroscopy and an orally ingested contrast material such as barium .
An x-ray examination helps doctors diagnose and process medical conditions. It exposes you to a minor dose of ionizing radiation sickness to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently exploited form of aesculapian visualize .
Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see internal organs in gesture. When the amphetamine GI nerve pathway is coated with barium, the radiologist is able to view and assess the anatomy and function of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum .
An roentgenogram examination that evaluates only the throat and esophagus is called a barium swallow .
In addition to drinking barium, some patients are besides given baking-soda crystals ( exchangeable to Alka-Seltzer ) to further improve the images. This procedure is called an air-contrast or double-contrast upper GI .
On occasion, some patients are given other forms of orally ingested contrast, normally containing iodine. These alternative contrast materials may be used if the affected role has recently undergone operation on the GI tract, or has allergies to early line materials. The radiologist will determine which type of contrast material will be used .
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What are some common uses of the procedure?

An upper GI examen helps evaluate digestive affair and can detect :

  • ulcers
  • tumors
  • inflammation of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum
  • hiatal hernias
  • scarring
  • blockages
  • abnormalities of the muscular wall of GI tract
  • anatomical problems such as intestinal malrotation (a twisting of a baby’s intestine)

The procedure is besides used to help diagnose the cause of symptoms such as :

  • difficulty swallowing
  • chest and abdominal pain
  • reflux (a backward flow of partially digested food and digestive juices)
  • unexplained vomiting
  • severe indigestion
  • blood in the stool (indicating internal GI bleeding)

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How should I prepare?

Your doctor will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your amphetamine GI .
Tell your sophisticate about all the medications you take. List any allergies, specially to iodine contrast materials. Tell your doctor of the church about late illnesses or other checkup conditions. Women should constantly tell their doctor and engineer if they are pregnant. Doctors will not perform many tests during pregnancy to avoid exposing the fetus to radiation sickness. If an x-ray is necessary, the repair will take precautions to minimize radiation exposure to the baby. See the Safety in X-ray, Interventional Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Procedures foliate for more information about pregnancy and x-rays .
To ensure the best possible image quality, your stomach must be empty of food. Therefore, your doctor will probable ask you not to eat or drink anything ( including any medications taken by sass, particularly antacids ) and to refrain from chewing gum after midnight on the day of the examen .
You may need to remove some clothe and/or change into a nightgown for the examination. Remove jewelry, obliterable alveolar consonant appliances, eyeglasses, and any metallic element objects or clothe that might interfere with the x-ray images .
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What does the x-ray equipment look like?

This exam typically uses a radiographic table, one or two x ray tubes, and a video monitor. Fluoroscopy converts x-rays into video recording images. Doctors use it to watch and guide procedures. The x ray machine and a detector suspended over the examination table produce the video recording .
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How does the procedure work?

X-rays are a form of radiation like fall or radio waves. x ray authorize through most objects, including the body. The engineer carefully aims the roentgenogram beam at the area of pastime. The machine produces a little burst of radiation that passes through your body. The radiation records an image on photographic film or a especial detector .
Fluoroscopy uses a continuous or pulsate x ray glow to create images and project them onto a video proctor. Your examination may use a contrast material to distinctly define the area of interest. Fluoroscopy allows your doctor to view joints or home organs in motion. The examination besides captures calm images or movies and stores them electronically on a computer. Most x-ray images are electronically stored digital files. Your doctor can easily entree these stored images to diagnose and manage your condition .
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How is the procedure performed?

A radiologic engineer and a radiologist, a doctor specifically trained to supervise and interpret radioscopy examinations, guide the patient through the amphetamine GI series .
As the patient drinks the liquid barium, which resembles a light milkshake, the radiologist will watch the barium pass through the patient ‘s digestive tract on a fluoroscope, a device that projects radiographic images in a movie-like sequence onto a monitor. The examination table will be positioned at unlike angles and the affected role ‘s abdomen may be compressed to help spread the barium. Once the upper berth GI nerve pathway is adequately coated with the barium, distillery x-ray images will be taken and stored for promote follow-up .
Children normally drink barium contrast substantial without any expostulation. If a child will not drink the contrast, the radiologist may need to pass a little tube into the abdomen to complete the examination .
very young children may be placed on a particular rotating chopine to help turn them into slanted positions. This allows the radiologist to see all the organs. Older children will be asked to hold very placid and may be asked to hold their breath for a few seconds while the roentgenogram pictures are taken .
Older children may undergo a double-contrast amphetamine GI series. The affected role will swallow baking-soda crystals that create gas in the stomach while extra x-rays are taken .
When the examen is complete, the engineer may ask you to wait until the radiologist confirms they have all the necessary images.

This examination is normally completed within 20 minutes .
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What will I experience during and after the procedure?

occasionally, patients find the chummy consistency of the barium unpleasant and difficult to swallow. The liquid barium has a chalky taste that may be masked slightly by add flavors such as strawberry or cocoa .
Being tilted on the examination table and having pressure applied to the abdomen can be uncomfortable for some patients. The examen may besides make you feel bloated .
If you receive gas-producing crystals, you may feel the motivation to belch. however, the radiologist or engineer will tell you to try to hold the gas in ( by swallowing your saliva if necessary ) to enhance the detail on the roentgenogram images .
In some aesculapian centers, the engineer can minimize affected role apparent motion by mechanically tilting the examining table. These actions ensure that the barium is coating all parts of the upper GI tract. As the operation continues, the engineer or the radiologist may ask you to drink more barium. You may hear the mechanical noises of the radiographic apparatus moving into seat during the examination .
After the examination, you can resume a regular diet and take orally administered medications unless instructed otherwise by your doctor .
The barium may color your stools gray or white for 48 to 72 hours after the procedure. Sometimes the barium can cause irregular constipation, which is normally treated by an nonprescription laxative. Drinking large quantities of fluids for several days following the test can besides help. If you are ineffective to have a intestine bowel movement or if your intestine habits undergo any significant changes following the examination, you should contact your doctor .
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Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist, a doctor trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images. The radiologist will send a sign report to your primary concern or referring doctor who will discuss the results with you .
You may need a follow-up examination. If thus, your doctor of the church will explain why. sometimes a follow-up examination further evaluates a likely issue with more views or a special image proficiency. It may besides see if there has been any change in an issue over time. follow-up exams are frequently the best manner to see if treatment is working or if a trouble needs care . 
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What are the benefits vs. risks?


  • Upper GI tract radiography is an extremely safe, noninvasive procedure.
  • The results of the upper GI series usually lead to accurate evaluation of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
  • Because barium is not absorbed into the blood, allergic reactions are extremely rare.
  • No radiation stays in your body after an x-ray exam.
  • X-rays usually have no side effects in the typical diagnostic range for this exam.


  • There is always a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation. However, given the small amount of radiation used in medical imaging, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the associated risk.
  • The radiation dose for this procedure varies. See the Radiation Dose in X-Ray and CT Exams page for more information about radiation dose.
  • Occasional patients may be allergic to the flavoring added to some brands of barium. If you have experienced allergic reactions after eating chocolate, certain berries or citrus fruit, be sure to tell your physician or the technologist before the procedure.
  • There is a slight chance that some barium could be retained, leading to a blockage of the digestive system. Therefore, patients who have a known obstruction in the GI tract should not undergo this examination.
  • Women should always tell their doctor and x-ray technologist if they are pregnant. See the Safety in X-ray, Interventional Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Procedures page for more information about pregnancy and x-rays.

A Word About Minimizing Radiation Exposure

Doctors take special care during x-ray exams to use the lowest radiation dose potential while producing the best images for evaluation. National and international radioscopy protective covering organizations continually review and update the technique standards radiology professionals use .
modern x-ray systems minimize stray ( scatter ) radiation by using controlled x-ray beams and dose dominance methods. This ensures that the areas of your body not being imaged receive minimal radiation sickness exposure .
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What are the limitations of Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract Radiography?

Mild pique of the line of the stomach or esophagus is unmanageable to detect, vitamin a good as ulcers smaller than 1/4 edge in diameter. The test will detect larger ulcers. It can besides suggest the bearing of underlying contagion with the bacteria, Helicobacter pylorus, the most coarse cause of ulcers ; but extra noninvasive tests such as a blood test or breath trial may be required to confirm this contagion. finally, biopsies of any abnormal areas can not be performed with this examination .
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